Gopher tortoise ecology in coastal upland and beach dune habitats in northeast Florida

  • Published source details Pawelek J.C. & Kimball M.E. (2014) Gopher tortoise ecology in coastal upland and beach dune habitats in northeast Florida. Chelonian Conservation and Biology, 13, 27-34.


This study is summarised as evidence for the following.

Action Category

Use prescribed burning: Forest, open woodland & savanna

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Reptile Conservation
  1. Use prescribed burning: Forest, open woodland & savanna

    A replicated, site comparison study in 2005–2011 in two sites of beach dunes, dry hammock and freshwater marsh in Florida, USA (Pawelek & Kimball 2014) found that gopher tortoise Gopherus polyphemus burrow density tended to be similar in areas that were burned or unburned. Results were not statistically tested. Burrow density ranged from 0.6–0.8 burrows/ha in burned areas and 0.6–0.7 burrows/ha in unburned areas. The authors suggest there may have been increases in burrow density from 2005–2011 in areas burned at least once since 2005 (0.2 to 1.2 burrows/ha; 0.3 to 0.5 burrows/ha; 7.5 to 10.3 burrows/ha) and a decrease in an area not burned since 2005 (2.7 to 0.2 burrows/ha). Four areas of the site had a history of prescribed burns dating back to 1988 (160 ha total), whereas other areas had no history of burning (229 ha total). Three of the burned areas were burned at least four times since 1988, and one was burned only once since 2010, and three of four areas were burned at least once during the study period. Burrow surveys were conducted in 2005, 2007 and 2011 by groups of surveyors walking 5–10 m apart during spring and autumn.

    (Summarised by: William Morgan)

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